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Niemeyer and Gibson cases advance to grand jury

MURRAY – The law enforcement presence was high in the Calloway County Judicial Building today as the Murray couple charged with murder and criminal child abuse in the grisly death of a 17-month-old last week were back in Calloway District Court for preliminary hearings. 

Chyanne Niemeyer and her fiancé Nathaniel Gibson were arrested last Monday after the couple brought Niemeyer’s daughter to the Murray-Calloway County Hospital Emergency Room. The child had severe burn injuries covering the majority of her body and was unresponsive. Deeming the injuries suspicious, ER staff contacted the Murray Police Department. Officer Justin Swope responded to the call. Shortly after he arrived, the child was pronounced dead.   

Last Tuesday, Niemeyer and Gibson pleaded not guilty to the charges, and Calloway District Judge Randall Hutchens set a $500,000 cash bond for each defendant. Today, they both waived their rights to preliminary hearings. Commonwealth’s Attorney Dennis Foust and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney James Burkeen will present their cases to the grand jury on Friday, Nov. 17. 

“They’ll return indictments, then Dec. 4, will be the arraignment in circuit court on the charges against them,” Foust said. “Is it possible that the charges could vary a little bit? It’s possible but not likely. We anticipate that they’ll return murder indictments and first-degree criminal abuse.

“The Murray Police Department, they’re continuing their investigation; basically, what it boils down to is we want to get to truth of what happened. It’s a horrible situation. I can’t comment any more than that other than to say that they’re continuing their investigation, and we intend to get justice – however that happens – for that deceased 17-month-old.” 

Today’s proceedings were not typical in that often several inmates are brought into the courtroom at a time for their hearings, but Niemeyer and Gibson were brought before the judge individually, each escorted by a five-person detail. In addition, more than a dozen deputies and police officers were present in the courtroom. 

Foust confirmed that the noticeable increase in law enforcement personnel was directly related to the cases in question. 

“Because they’re all working it, and they’re invested in it,” he said. “Normally, James (Burkeen) handles most of the cases here (in Calloway County) … (but this case) is going to take both of us and my other assistant Rob Mattingly because we’re gonna be all hands on (deck) – obviously, four eyes are always better than two. So, the police presence – they’re looking for justice because we’re all on the same page.” 

When asked if he had ever seen a child abuse case on this scale, Foust responded, “That’s why the investigation is going to continue, to try to make sense out of all of this because it doesn’t make sense. It’s a horrific situation. We recognize that accused people are innocent until proven guilty… something bad happened, something that should never have happened, happened.” 

Acknowledging that, at this point, he does not know what defenses the defendants will assert, he advised there may be “forks in the road that may take us in some different directions in terms of what we would anticipate a trial will bring in terms of evidence.” 

Foust noted multiple times that MPD is still investigating the cases and advised that his office is working closely with them. “We simply want the truth, and we want the public to know the truth,” he said. “Unfortunately, we’re not there yet.” 

He further advised that he wants to be able to try the case before a jury in Calloway County. 

“We don’t want people to draw any conclusions until we can seat 12 (jurors), then they’re welcome to draw a conclusion,” Foust said. “We do anticipate that, in this case, we will go to trial. There’s always a possibility that you could settle, but I anticipate that this will be a case that 12 people will need to decide.

“It’s going to be difficult all the way around and it is my hope that we’ll be able to get it resolved sooner as opposed to later. We’re going to be several months in really getting everything together in terms of evidence because we’re going to leave no stones unturned. … At the end of the day, I think, the problem is – what is justice? I mean, in this case, it’s going to be punishment for those who have inflicted this, but we have a 17-month-old deceased… you can’t replace that.” 

Individuals who are charged with crimes are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law. 

Sentinel Staff

Jessica Paine
I’m Jessica Paine, founder of The Murray Sentinel. You may know me from my time as a citizen journalist, running the Calloway Covid-19 Count page on Facebook, or you may be familiar with my more recent work for another local news outlet. Being that I’m “from here,” you may have known me since I was “knee-high to a grasshopper,” although you knew me as Jessica Jones. But whether you know me or not, I’m glad you found your way here.


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